Thursday, 30 May 2013

OLD STOCK - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Where are all the hilariously offensive senior citizen gags? Not here.

Old Stock (2012) *1/2
Dir. James Genn
Starring: Noah Reid, Melanie Leishman, Meghan Heffern, Danny Wells, Corinne Conley

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Let me tell you what "Old Stock" means to me. When I was a lad and moronically drank alcohol even though I hated the taste of it, I realized that being drunk had occasional benefits. However, when one wanted something more cheap and potent than cooking wine, Lysol or Gimli Goose, O'Keefe's "Extra OLD STOCK" had the highest booze content going for the best price. It was especially cheap for me because my old man was the marketing director at Carling O'Keefe Breweries, so I didn't have to pay for beer at all. Needless to say, this made me a popular lad.

However, I'm not here to talk about cheap beer. I'm here to talk about a new Canadian movie called Old Stock. The title refers to a very young man by the name of "Stock" who lives in an "old" folks home with his Grandfather because he's hiding from the world and a big, bad, dark secret. It's easier for him to be an ostrich to face up to the truth. The same can be said for his Granddad who is separated from his wife and looking to sow his old, but still wild oats in what appears to be the most underpopulated retirement home I've ever seen in my life. (In fact, most of the actors look spry enough to not actually be there.)

When a pretty young missy starts working at the home to teach the oldsters aerobics, Stock feels a stirring in his loins. When some nasty young fellas insult Stock by (Horrors!) rearranging the message board outside the home for all to see, the straw is indeed about to break the camel's back. What "old" Stock needs is to gird his loins and face some unpleasant truths in order to move on with his life.

Will he do it? You bet!

Do we care? Uh, does this question even need to be asked?

Are you laughing yet?

Here's the deal. The movie has an amiable cellar-dweller indie feel to it and I suspect it was supposed, on occasion, to make us laugh, but it's not especially funny. In fact, if my response is to be used as a barometer, I didn't laugh once (though I did smile a couple of times). If the movie is supposed to be a straight-up drama, then there's really little to invest one's self in since the situation isn't exactly a Walpurgisnacht of the Edward Albee variety where nerve endings are torn out, exposed and shredded. Perhaps, then, it's a "dramedy". I hate that word because it was first used in the 80s to describe dreadful television that forced me to chuck my cable TV subscription and never bother watching TV on any regular basis ever again.

I don't think it's a "dramedy", though. Both the writer, Dane Clark and the director James Genn, have served up enough good work prior to this to suggest that neither of them would have the poor taste to indulge themselves in such a horrendous genre.

What the picture is, finally, I'm really not sure. Who it was supposed to entertain, save perhaps regular viewers of Tommy Hunter or Lawrence Welk, I can't begin to imagine. If, God forbid, it was trying to wade in Wes Anderson or (ugh!) Zach Braff territory, it's not even close enough to begin denying the cigar. The movie does have intermittent pleasures derived from a cast working their hardest to bring something resembling life to this whole affair and thankfully, it seldom plods along, but rather it pads about effortlessly in a pair of comfy loafers.

This, however, hardly makes for scintillating viewing.

In fact, most of the time I kept myself awake trying to imagine lost opportunities to take the decent-enough coat-hanger of the plot and inject stuff that would have made it truly funny - albeit morbidly funny. Hell, I'd have settled for ultra-juvenile humour.

Seriously folks, we've got this geek who wears ugly sweaters living with a bunch of old people after crippling up a babe on the night of the high school prom and seeking solace within the confines of a place where people go before they die. This could have been wildly, insanely, darkly, bleakly, (even moronically) and offensively funny instead of not funny at all.

Where are the gags involving decrepit toothless old people in front of bowls of Gerber's baby mush, scooping it up with wooden spoons the size of spatulas and missing their maws entirely? How come we can't see some dementia-ridden old codger walk into a speeding muscle car? How come none of the old people - men and/or women - didn't try to covertly sneak into Stock's room for some crazy lovin'? Hell, why doesn't Stock have a senior citizen fetish involving doilies, Grandma panties and Depends? And speaking of Depends, does anyone have any problems with old cliches like overdosing on prune juice and having inopportune diarrhea? I sure don't. Old people are not only kind of pathetic, but they're funny. God knows, I'm already slapping my knee imagining how hilariously pathetic I'll be in my dotage.

Or, let's take a look at that babe of a crippled girl for a moment. Tom Green used a babe-o-licious crippled girl in his comedy masterwork Freddy Got Fingered and she not only gave terrific blow jobs, but enjoyed being viciously caned on her crippled legs. I'm not suggesting anyone should have repeated this gag, but did anyone think about topping it? Now that would be funny. (And even if it backfired, the makers of Old Stock would have scored big points for trying.)

So what do we really have here? A polite, low-key, unfunny comedy that might appeal to my Mother on a night of channel-hopping desperation. I seriously have no idea why this movie exists and why anyone would pay money to see it in a cinema unless they were a Hutterite (and last time I checked, Hutterites don't go to movies since there's nowhere to park their horses and buggies in multiplex parking lots).

I will not take the low road here, though. I will not use the film's title to crack lame jokes about how "old" or "stock" the picture is. I will travel, instead, upon the high road of a cheap good drunk and suggest that you belt back a case or two of Old Stock (or even, perhaps, some Labatt's 50), settle back in your chair and let 'er rip - beer farts and snores for one and all.

"Old Stock" is an E-One picture in limited theatrical release.